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Osceola seeks planning consultant, developer for Poinciana SunRail site

This concept plan for the former Solstice property shows the future land uses for the land. The section in blue is vested for up to 700 residential units. The section in yellow would be developed under Employment Center standards, with a minimum density of 18 units per acre. The pink section is approved for for 20,000 square feet of commercial uses.
This concept plan for the former Solstice property shows the future land uses for the land. The section in blue is vested for up to 700 residential units. The section in yellow would be developed under Employment Center standards, with a minimum density of 18 units per acre. The pink section is approved for for 20,000 square feet of commercial uses. (Waldrup Engineering)

Osceola County wants to bring in a new planning consultant with experience in Transit Oriented Design (TOD) to bring fresh eyes to an 82-acre site adjacent to the Poinciana SunRail station to position it for resale.

The county voted in January to buy the property from Taylor Morrison Homes for $8.9 million shortly after the homebuilder amended the Planned Development to add higher density. At the time, County Manager Don Fisher told GrowthSpotter he had no specific plans for the site other than a portion being utilized for affordable housing.

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On Sunday, the county published a Request for Proposals from planning and engineering firms to create a master plan for the site. The primary goal, according to the solicitation, is to “market the property for sale to buyers that are willing and capable of executing the given plan and program for the entire property.”

At the same time, the county issued an Request for Letters of Interest for an experienced developer in the affordable housing space to build 400 units of affordable and workforce housing on 20 acres within the TOD community. The county used federal HOME funding to buy the land, so it’s required to use at least a portion of it for affordable housing.

The developer owns a combined 57 acres just south of the SunRail station.

The county is looking for a developer who has completed at least two affordable housing projects within the last 10 years and who has experience securing financing outside of the Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The county would provide the land, with restrictions, but would not provide rent subsidies.

The location of the affordable housing would be identified in the new master plan, which also would identify the optimal number and location of workforce and market rate housing.

The eastern section of the site was amended in 2019 to convert the future land use to Employment Center. That would set a minimum density of 18 housing units per acre, and would allow for a mix of uses, including residential over retail. The maximum height would be 4 stories. The rest of the property, including the section that connects to Rail Street, is entitled for 700 dwelling units.

The master plan consultant will be expected to create a vision for the property that makes it a catalyst for more TOD development around the station, including some commercial uses like child care, grocery and drug stores. A collaboration with the owner of an adjacent 38.77-acre parcel north of the SunRail station is likely.

A new mixed-use development and a 7-story apartment building could be in the works near the SunRail station.

Once the County Commissioners have adopted the master plan, the planning consultant will draft a Request for Proposals to potential buyers to purchase the property in bulk, possibly with entitlements and master plan included. The county is hoping to recoup the money it invested to buy the land.

Bids for both solicitations are due July 21 and can be found on the county’s VendorLink page.

The station is currently the southern terminus of the SunRail line, and it has limited bus service to the Disney parks. Some residential and commercial development is picking up in the vicinity of the station, but other projects that were expected to generate high riders fizzled. Those included a proposed $130 million Frito Lay plant, which has been shelved since 2018, and the BK Ranch mixed-use development, most of which was sold to Disney for wetland mitigation.

Pulte Homes will start construction in the next few weeks on Cypress Hammock, a 502-lot subdivision about a half-mile north of the station, and Kissimmee Developer Thomas Chalifoux Jr. recently filed Site Development Plan for a new commercial center just south of the SunRail station, at the intersection of Poinciana and Orange Blossom Trail (U.S. 17-92).

Taylor Morrison inherited the 82-acres it sold to the county through its acquisition of AV Homes in 2018. The homebuilder also controls an 8-acre commercial site just south of the station.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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